Selecting Fabrics

 In Fabrics

‘God bless America, land that I love.’  What makes America a land that we love?  Well, I guess it depends on the generation you are asking.  My grandparents love this land because of freedom.  My parents love this land because of neighborhoods, neighbors, and sitting around at cookouts.  My generation loves this land because of Target and Ebay.  My younger sister in college loves this land because of facebook and tigerclub cards.  America has such a history and now more than ever it is changing at such a rapid pace.  It is so rapid that you can’t blink or you will miss the debut of the iphone 5 and 6 and then you will inevitably feel more lost than ever.  You could have had what you wanted yesterday…if only you had been keeping up.  Everything about America is expanding and choices are endless.  In every area of life, choices are endless.

What car to buy? To go in the driveway of what house you choose to live in?…So you can walk in from work to relax on the sofa you picked out and rest your head on the pillow with soft fabric you selected.  Wait, did you select the right fabric for that pillow?  There are hundreds of thousands of variations of fabrics and patterns that you could have selected just for that pillow.  Selecting fabric can be very overwhelming.  Where do you start?  Selecting a fabric should always begins with how you live.  A family with three young children lives differently than a couple whose kids are out of the house and off at college.  Thus, they have different needs.  Knowing how you and your family live is the beginning to being able to select the precise fabric for each application.

Durability.  This is a good beginning.  Durability is important in selecting a fabric.  In what application will you be using the fabric?  For example if you are using it to recover a sofa in a family room you will need a heavy duty fabric where double rubs are important.  Every fabric is put through a double rub test to determine the approximate wear and tear.  The test is a back and forth motion to represent someone sitting down and getting up.  Always check the double rubs to make sure you are selecting a strong enough fabric for your sofa.  The higher the number, the longer this fabric will last you before it wears out.  I would suggest something with at least 25,000 double rubs for upholstery pieces that will be used regularly.  Keep in mind that anything loosely woven can snag or pull.  So try to stay away from those fabrics. On the other end, if you are selecting fabric for throw pillows or drapery in the parlor­­­ double rub really is not the issue.  This is when you can select a beautiful silk to go on your gorgeous settee or to drape from the windows.

Lighting.  When selecting fabric for a room, lighting is important to think about.  Is the room getting a lot of natural light?  If so, fabrics tend to fade.  A great solution to this can be selecting more of an indoor/outdoor fabric that is treated to handle sunlight.  Another solution can be drapery.  Getting drapery that is well lined can be used to prevent sunlight from fading fabrics at the time when the sun is blaring through the window. 

Style.  After knowing the lifestyle of your family, the durability you will need for that fabric, and how much sunlight that fabric will be getting, you can filter out many fabrics that you won’t want to use so you can then select the style of the fabric.  Although this is the fun part, it still can be overwhelming.  So these are some things that can help you determine your own style.  Is your lifestyle and home more casual or more ornate?  Are you more traditional or more contemporary?  Are you drawn towards the latest trends or would you rather have a classic?  If you do love trends it is important to think about several things.  Has this trend been around for a few years?  If so, steer clear because it might be heading its way out.  More than likely you will have seen a glimpse here and there of what the next trend will be.  If you are more contemporary then you will probably be drawn to more geometric patterns.  Know your style before you set out to find the perfect fabric!  And if you have a hard time knowing what your style is, go back to all those magazine tear outs you have been keeping of rooms you love.  Most likely there are a few common design aspects in there that can determine your style.  Selecting multiple fabrics to go together can be overwhelming as well.  Thankfully, random is in right now.  But be careful, because it needs to be done right.  Remember to still mix your scales.  It is good to have one large scale, a medium scale, and a small scale for differentiation.  Although there are limitless possibilities of combinations, random does not mean anything goes. 

Choices are endless and more than just in the fabric world.  Everything about our world is expanding.  From the single spinning wheel to the spinning jenny to the first textile buildings to the industrial textile mills, the American textile industry has come a long way and fast.  I can hardly flip through the latest fabrics and hang the sample books on the wall before the UPS truck pulls up with more fabrics.  ‘God bless America.  Land that I love.’  What do I love about this land? I love this land because I can design a vignette from window to settee all in my head and know that every fabric in my design is out there.  I just have to find it.





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